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Merck Says Experimental Pill Cuts Worst Effects Of COVID-19

Medical Debt

Pharmaceutical company Merck says its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus.

Merck’s drug would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19, a potentially major advance in efforts to fight the pandemic.

The study results were released by the company and have not been peer reviewed, but an independent group of medical advisers monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early because the interim results were so strong.

Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics say early results showed patients who received the drug, called molnupiravir, within five days of COVID-19 symptoms had about half the rate of hospitalization and death as patients who received a dummy pill. The study tracked 775 adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who were considered higher risk for severe disease due to health problems such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease.

Such medications are seen as key to controlling future waves of infection and reducing the impact of the pandemic.

The company says it will soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize its use. The U.S. government has committed to purchase 1.7 million doses of the drug if it is authorized by the FDA.

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